Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

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Invited Tutorial #305
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
Behavioral Cusps: Twenty Years Later
Monday, May 30, 2016
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Grand Ballroom AB, Hyatt Regency, Gold East
Area: DEV; Domain: Theory
PSY/BACB CE Offered. CE Instructor: Jesus Rosales-Ruiz, Ph.D.
Chair: R. Douglas Greer (Columbia University Teachers College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences)
Presenting Authors: : JESÚS ROSALES-RUIZ (University of North Texas)

Rosales-Ruiz and Baer first wrote about the concept of behavioral cusps in 1996. However, it wasn't until the publication of a JABA article the next year (Rosales-Ruiz and Baer 1997) and a follow-up article by Bosch and Fuqua (2001) that the idea begins to spread throughout behavior analysis. A behavioral cusp is a special type of behavior change because it brings the organism in contact with new contingencies that have even more far-reaching consequences. The concept of the cusp has been both theoretically and pragmatically useful for the field of behavior analysis. In practice, the concept of the cusp helps guide the selection of target behaviors. In theory, it contributes significantly to our understanding of the way that behavior changes. This presentation will illustrate the concept of the cusp and distinguish it from other types of behavior change, such as generativity, and types of behavior, such as pivotal behaviors. It will also highlight some of the developments that have helped advance the concept of the cusp over the last 20 years and discuss the theoretical importance of the cusp concept.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

This tutorial will be of interest to basic and applied researchers interested in mechanisms of behavior change and to practitioners who work in a variety of applied settings.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the event, the participant will be able to: 1) Describe the difference between behavioral cusps and other types of behavior change. 2) Identify cusps in teaching situations in applied settings. 3) List possible behaviors that could be cusps.
JESÚS ROSALES-RUIZ (University of North Texas)
Jesús Rosales-Ruiz is an associate professor at the University of North Texas in the Department of Behavior Analysis. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas in 1995, under the mentorship of two pioneers in the field of behavior analysis, Donald M. Baer and Ogden R. Lindsley. Jesús is one of the few scientists in the world studying animal training from both the theoretical and applied perspectives. He, along with his students, has greatly contributed to the understanding of the science and practice of animal training. Jesús also studies the antecedent control of behavior, generalization, behavioral cusps, fluency-based teaching, treatment of autism, teaching of academic behavior, rule-governed behavior and contingency-shaped behavior. He has served on several editorial boards, including the Journal of Precision Teaching, the European Journal of Behavior Analysis, and the International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy. He has also served as a reviewer for the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, the Journal of Neuroscience Methods, Behavioral Processes, and PLOS ONE. Jesús is a fellow of the Eastern Psychological Association, a trustee of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies and a member of the Association for Behavior Analysis International.
Keyword(s): Behavior change, Behavioral cusps, Generativity, Pivotal response



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